Up Next


Four reasons the Just Blaze-hosted Pharrell vs. Timbaland beat battle will be different from Blaze vs. Swizz Beatz

It’s all 757 everything: Timbaland and Pharrell will be the next two producers to jump behind the wheels of steel

Iconic music producer and world-renowned DJ Justin “Just Blaze” Smith might have stumbled on to something.

Back in February, Blaze and super producer Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean squared off in an Instagram Live beat battle as the two musical creatives ran through their prolific and equally legendary catalogs, including DMX’s “Ruff Ryders Anthem,” Beyoncé’s “Freedom,” Ruff Ryders’ “Bust Ya Gunz,” Drake’s “Lord Knows,” Jay Z’s “Coming of Age” and nearly three hours more of classic records that featured a previously unreleased track featuring Jay Z, Nas, Jadakiss and DMX.

The back-and-forth, “anything you produced, I produced better” contest is by far one of the most entertaining moments in rap in the past year. But it also opened up the floodgates for the possibility of other dream matchups. And late Tuesday night, Just Blaze confirmed the next installment. It’s all 757 everything.

**thinking face emoji**

  1. Timbo vs. Pharrell? The ’90s portion alone of both of their catalogs is ridiculous. And the 2000s? Once we start bringing in acts such as Justin Timberlake (who has albums produced by both Timbaland and Pharrell) and The Clipse (whose work with Skateboard P — such as “Grindin’,” “Mr. Me Too” and “Keys Open Doors” — is responsible for some of the more critically acclaimed hits since the turn of the century)? This could get really ugly, in a really good way, really soon.
  2. Swizz and Just’s battle featured a predominantly hip-hop vibe. Different here could be the extent to which both Tim and P unleash their R&B catalogs, featuring names such as Aaliyah, Destiny’s Child, Playa, Brandy, Ginuwine, SWV, Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Kelis and Blackstreet. If that happens, this might be worth a date night at home with your better half.
  3. Oh, and the Jay Z section of the battle? “N— What N— Who,” “Big Pimpin’,” “Is That Your Chick?” and “Hola Hovito,” then Skateboard P following up with “So Ambitious,” “I Just Wanna Love U,” “Frontin’ ” and then “Allure”? Keeping it a buck, too, that’s not even cracking the surface of their work with Blue Ivy and the twins’ dad. Jay himself might have to make an appearance at this battle.
  4. Speaking of appearances, I’m with Just Blaze. Pharrell’s catalog is deep using his name alone. He’s one of the most recognizable faces in the world, with a signature voice to match. But this present-day acclaim can sometimes overshadow his work as one half of The Neptunes, the production duo of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo. They reportedly met in junior high school at a band camp for gifted musical students. Together, the two produced a plethora of influential and massive hits spanning the course of multiple generations, artists and presidential administrations, and in the process they created a sound never to be duplicated. If Chad Hugo shows up, the Virginia native in me might react more emotionally than LeBron James did after Game 7 of the NBA Finals last year.
This is — as with Just Blaze vs. Swizz — far more than a beat battle. It’s a much-needed history lesson.

For years, I’ve insisted that the Timbaland, Missy Elliott, Aaliyah, Ginuwine and Static Major quintet has never received its proper praise as one of the greatest musical factions of my lifetime. Couple that with a generation of music fans who only know Pharrell as the “Happy” guy or Pharrell the solo act. This is — as with Just Blaze vs. Swizz — far more than a beat battle. It’s a much-needed history lesson. There’s no news on a confirmed date for the showdown just yet, or how it will be broadcast. Whatever the case, Just Blaze just made the spring a little bit hotter. I have but one request for him though: Make sure Busta Rhymes is in the building. In fact, make Busta the sideline reporter, a la Craig Sager. So far, this battle series seems a casual, intimate kind of organic social thing. Not a lot of bells or whistles — just music that has become part of the soundtrack of our lives. So far.

Justin Tinsley is a senior culture writer for Andscape. He firmly believes “Cash Money Records takin’ ova for da ’99 and da 2000” is the single most impactful statement of his generation.